Downey doesn’t disappoint… but the writers do.
I worry that the following review may sound negative. Let me start by saying that I recommend you see The Judge; it’s just that I was hoping for more. After seeing the trailer I was expecting to be shouting from the rooftops for everybody to see the movie – but instead, it’s a subtle comment in passing.
The problem with the first film from Robert Downey JR’s own production company is that there’s too much happening. A whole host of sub-plots spring up around the main story – some of which work well, whilst others don’t. It’s almost like the writers (Nick Schenk & Bill Dubuque) couldn’t make up their mind about what type of film they wanted it to be.
The main plot focuses around Hank Palmer (Downey), an angry and feared lawyer from Chicago. When Hank gets a call announcing that his mother has died, he returns to his childhood home – where his estranged father (the town’s Judge played by Robert Duvall) is suspected of murder. Hank cross-examines his father under oath in the courtroom, allowing us (the audience) to find out what it is about the family’s history that has left him so angry.
The best thing about The Judge is the excellent performances from its A-list cast – particularly the two Roberts. Some of their scenes together will have you laughing out loud, whilst others leave you genuinely moved.
Unfortunately, with all the subplots crammed in, The Judge feels a little messy. The film could easily have been under 2 hours long, with a much stronger ending. But with so many stories needing to be resolved, the movie ends after it should have – leaving me clock-watching for the final 20 minutes.
Overall, The Judge is saved by an incredible cast. Had it been anyone else playing the lead roles, this could have been a disaster.
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Genre: Drama & Comedy
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Leighton Meester, Dax Shepard & Jeremy Strong
Running Time: 2hrs 21mins
Directed by: David Dobkin [youtube id=”ZBvK6ni97W8″ width=”600″ height=”350″]